Sir Simon Rattle and his top team from the London Symphony Orchestra have appealed for government support to help them survive the difficulties created by Brexit and Covid.
The orchestra depended on international tours, much of it in Europe, of 40% of its revenue before the coronavirus, with tours canceled due to the pandemic.
Now, as the LSO prepares to welcome its first live audience to the Barbican on Tuesday for 14 months, CEO Rattle told the Observer, “We need to find a way to do this to survive. Of course, we are grateful for the public funding we get, but it is a drop in the ocean that this great orchestra will need to survive. ”
Rattle continued: “We had 99 days of tour reserved for last season. How would that be now? There is no going back. Covid has hidden the impact of all this and now we are starting to realize the problems. “
These include “even very basic things,” Sir Simon added. “It’s so obviously ridiculous, even in the field of transport regulations. Tour concerts have to be planned differently (the truck has to go back to England after two places), we can’t go from one country to another ”.
The orchestra’s director of operations, Alan Goode, said:
“The two problems are exacerbating each other: the pandemic has reduced funding for the arts and music across Europe, while Brexit will increase the costs of getting there and touring, so a abyss “.
The president of the orchestra, David Alberman, who plays the second section of the violin, said: “We are all concerned about this. Ways to pay taxes and social charges when you earn as a foreigner from a country that does not belong to “The European Union has changed with Brexit. We hope that these things and other unintended consequences will be covered by new agreements.”
General Manager Kathryn McDowell said that while the Arts Council, the City of London and private donors “have done their part” to keep the orchestra viable through Covid, “we are an international orchestra. “We have always been and always will be, it is in our blood. And even if the situation changes, we will have to find solutions, now more than ever.”
The orchestra, he said, “is working with the government to make changes in a better way and we need them as soon as possible. The LSO has to play in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, although in some respects now play in “Europe is more like going to Asia the way we have to organize things. But we have to find a way to do it.”